Review: Steeleye Span at Aylesbury Theatre

PUBLISHED: 18:23 29 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:22 20 February 2013

Review: Steeleye Span at Aylesbury Theatre

Review: Steeleye Span at Aylesbury Theatre

Reviewer Stephen Bourke enjoys Steeleye Span at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.


Steeleye Span, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

November 28

by Stephen Bourke

There are times, these days, when even listening to the news would be inviting accusations of masochism. Watching X factor would confirm it. So the slide into sadness becomes inevitable. But, every now and then something happens to make you realise that there is a God after all.

That event was the performance of Steeleye Span at the Waterside theatre. The band are now performing again with six members in what must be about the 18th change in line-up. But so what? Of course there are differences down the years, but to paraphrase Maddy Prior, Steeleye Span is like a bus, you get off and get on again but it never stops running.

They performed their new album which included the traditional Seven Hundred Elves and Two Magicians which clearly demonstrated the depths of sound which can only come from the six.I particularly liked the roundness of sound of Drink Down the Moon, with Peter Zorn on Saxophone and Peter Knight on violin, the whole number is very mesmeric.

I have never been able to imagine Steeleye Span without Maddy Prior as her range of vocals and pureness of sound are probably unmatched and she is always delightful to watch as she exudes such enthusiasm. I also liked her humour concerning the auditorium which, she said, inspired her to study woodwork.As I have always imagined the interior was designed by a Jenga afficionado, I thought this was very amusing.

An unexpected but delightful rendition of Twinkle Little Star by Maddy Prior once again demonstrated her vocal range and the violin talents of Peter Knight. I was even more surprised to hear the next number To know him is to Love him, which is faithful to thePhil Spector original version of 1958, more recently recorded by Amy Winehouse. This was a further reminder, if needed of the range of musical diversity that is produced by Steeleye Span.

The second part of the performance was rounded off by the rock number Bonny Black Hare which was a number that you would normally expect the entire audience to be dancing in the aisles. The fact that they were not still mystifies me. The violin of Peter Knight was stunning and sounded like a cross between a traditional bottlekneck blues guitar and a Brian May solo. Wonderful.

This music is the stuff of festivals, to be appreciated for what it is and be enjoyed. It is apparent that the average age of theaudience suggests they were enjoying their music when the band was formed in 1969. The absence of a younger fanbase says more about the current musical trends than it does about Steeleye Span. This music is timeless, enjoyable and musically creative.

However, as like Cliff Richard they have made themselves immortal by producing the Christmas standard Guadate which is faithfully reproduced on Christmas compilations, so I suspect there is a large fanbase who, not having heard of Steeleye Span, will be acquainted with them at Christmas. The encore included the song which brought them to worldwide fame All Around My Hat and, of course Guadate.

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